WARSAW, ANKARA, (BM) – NATO ‘spear’ is Turkey. From January 1, 2021, the Turkish armed forces will take over from Poland an annual duty as a framework state in the land component of the so-called NATO spearheads, i.e., VJTF [Very High Readiness Joint Task Force], learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.
The Turks will be the backbone of the forces with high readiness to react in a crisis, delegating to these tasks, primarily the 66th Mechanized Infantry Brigade’s resources. The Turkish unit will replace the Polish 21st Podhale Rifle Brigade in this role.
The NATO communiqué indicates that starting in 2021, Turkey will take over command of the NATO spear from Poland, which provided the backbone of forces in 2020. Ankara will build the Turkish component of the VJTF around the 66th Mechanized Infantry Brigade. That’s about 4,200 Turkish troops, and NATO’s VJTF total has about 6,400 militaries. Thus, we should remember that other soldiers from countries such as – Albania, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States will also serve under the VJTF. These VJTFs are part of a larger structure known as the NATO Response Force – NRF.
In the NATO communiqué informing about the assumption of Turkey’s role in the framework, the Alliance emphasized that the country had made significant investments in the unit designated for the VJTF. They are thus creating one of the most mobile brigades in NATO, especially in logistics and planning. Also, NATO noted that the activities under the VJTF would be a perfect place to showcase new Turkish weapon systems. This country’s armed forces have received new Turkish combat vehicles and howitzers, and new anti-tank missiles.
Therefore, we can expect that the VJTF will include the T-155 Firtina howitzers produced in Turkey based on technology transfer from the Republic of Korea, and possibly vehicles of the Kaplan family and PARS with domestic OMTAS ATGMs.
Let us recall that the NATO countries’ leaders decided to create the VJTF at the summit in Wales in 2014. This action was in response to a change in the security environment, including the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the instability of the Middle East region, which was then threatened by expanding the so-called Islamic State. Currently, individual NATO states take turns to become framework nations responsible for the operation of the VJTF. In addition to Poland mentioned above, in 2019, it was Germany, and in 2018 Italy.
Turkey’s takeover of control over VJTF is a signal that the Turkish side, despite all tensions with partners in the Alliance, still wants to fulfill its obligations and is allowed to satisfy them even at the highest level. Tensions have arisen over Turkey’s purchases of Russian S-400 air and missile defense systems. That’s one of the reasons the US has reservations. The Turkish activity in the eastern part of the Sea In the Mediterranean and Libya, which is controversial, especially in Greece and France, could be the second reason.
The first element of the “spear” forces must be ready for deployment within 48 hours from the threat’s occurrence, while the Alliance should prepare the entire formation for deployment within 5-7 days. VJTF must also have the capability to operate independently in the field for 30 days until a larger NATO force is deploying.
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